Because cream of mushroom soup is so popular as a canned good, it kinda has a low-class reputation. But I love the stuff, so what I’ve tried to do here is make high-class cream of mushroom soup. It’s a bit more expensive and more finicky than my typical soup recipes, but it’s honestly the best thing I’ve had to eat in awhile. It’s very strong, very delicious — if you really like mushrooms, and I do. But the first thing is an onion, peeled and roughly chopped. It’s gonna get pureed, so it doesn’t have to be pretty at this stage. Pot on pretty high heat, some olive oil in there, and I’m just gonna stir this until it’s soft and starting to brown. You’ll notice I’m using my Chrissy Teigen pan, not a soup pot. This is gonna go a lot faster if I cook it in a wide vessel. A narrow soup pot just doesn’t have as much hot pan surface area. After about 7 minutes in the pan, that’s good enough. In goes a couple tablespoons of butter. You could just use more olive oil instead — an amount roughly equal in weight to this quarter cup of all-purpose flour I’m stirring in to make a roux. About 30g of flour. If you have a enough fat in there you can stir it into a thick paste. It might look too dry until you cook it for a minute. A roux will loosen up when it really gets going, and I’ll just gently brown that for a few minutes, just for flavor. Before it burns, we’ll need something to deglaze the pan. A wise man once said, I’ve got my Courvoisier right here. Actually it’s Hennessy. Any cognac, and brandy would be fine — or whisky. Any liquor aged in a wooden barrel goes amazing with mushrooms, in my opinion. It’s like tasting the essence of the forest — the tree and the fungus that grows through it. I probably put in a whole cup of cognac, 240mL. But we obviously need a little more liquid, so I’m just slowly mixing in about two cups of plain water. If you put it all in at once it’ll be hard to stir out the lumps. I used plain water instead of stock because this is gonna be my stock — dried mushrooms. Any kind — I’d say just buy one of the cheaper varieties. These are maitakes, and I try to snap apart the biggest chunks as I drop them in. This recipe will have fresh mushrooms, but the flavor base is dry mushrooms — an ounce total, 30g. Each of these packages is half an ounce. Dried mushrooms are a far more potent source of umami and shroomy flavors than fresh mushrooms are, but some people are bothered by the tiny grains of sand that are often stuck in them. You’d have to look real close to these porcini to see anything. Oh, you noticed the green glasses? Why yes, they’re from Warby Parker, the sponsor of this video. Dried mushrooms and cognac may be expensive, but these start at just $95, which is cheap for good glasses. Whether online or at their stores, Warby Parker provides exceptional eye wear and eye care — they do exams, too. And if you follow my link in the description, you can browse their glasses, their sunglasses, their contacts, all of that. And you can pick five frames for a totally free at-home try-on. These came right to my door, shipping was free, and I’m under no obligation to buy any of these — though I do like that pair. These ones are gonna be a nope. Hey, I figure I might as well try stuff I’d be too to embarrassed to try in front of people at the store. When you’ve made your decision, you can just slap on the pre-paid return shipping label, drop it in the mail and that’s it. Order the winning pair online. Do your free at-home try-on. Just go to warbyparker.com/ragusea. It helps me when you use my link, which is in the description. Thank you, Warby Parker. And if a little sandy grit on dried mushrooms bothers you, here’s how you deal with it. Bring some water to a boil — the microwave is fine. Take it off the heat, stir in the mushrooms. They rapidly start to grow which opens their structure and helps release any sand. Let it sit for maybe a half hour, and you’ve got what they call “mushroom tea.” The liquid from the first steep usually contains most of the flavor from the mushrooms. To keep out the sand, you can just throw a coffee filter into a strainer and pour the tea through. Keep the mushrooms behind. The sand is so small it would go through the sieve without the coffee filter in there. That is a huge amount of flavor we’ve just put into the soup. Then you could just throw the mushrooms in, but the package tells you to give them a wash, in case any sand is still sticking. Truthfully, I almost never bother with any of that. The sand doesn’t bother me and rarely have I even noticed it. I just throw them in dry — you do you. So I’ve got an ounce, 30g total of dried mushrooms and four cups total of water, almost a liter. I like at least a couple tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce in here. Yes, it’s made with anchovies. You could use soy sauce instead, or a yeast extract, like Marmite. Or just skip it. I’ll grind in some pepper to start with. The Worcestershire brought enough salt for now. And at this point I’ll just cover this so not too much evaporates and simmer on low heat for at least a half hour. An hour would be better. During which time I can work on my pound of fresh mushrooms. About half a kilo. Whatever kind you can get. These are cremini, these are baby shiitake, and I’ve got a few big chanterelles in there. I’ll just give everything a quick rinse to get off any big chunks of dirt still on them. Time to trim off any woody bits of stem and then slice thinly. I think thin slices are better in something as delicate as a soup. These cute little shiitake I might just cut in half. I want to see the identifiable shape of mushrooms in the finished soup. This might look like a gargantuan pile, but it’s really the minimum you need. They’re gonna shrink down considerably here in my widest pan. I’ve got a mixture of hot olive oil and butter in there — I like that combination with mushrooms, but whatever fat you use, use a lot of it. I’ll put in a pinch of salt and some pepper to start with. I think you really do taste the seasoning the mushrooms absorb in the sauté. It doesn’t all dissolve into the soup later. The wider the pan, the quicker this goes. I need to boil most of the water out of them before I can really start browning them. While I wait I can peel and chop a few garlic cloves that I’ll put in with the mushrooms right at the end. We’re getting there now. Cooking these down also concentrates their flavor. I think when you make soup, things need to be very strongly flavored, because they’re gonna be diluted by a lot of water in the end. And now that these are dry enough, they’ll start getting really golden brown. Gotta stir constantly at this stage or they’ll burn. Almost done, so in goes the garlic and I’ll fry that for a couple minutes, until I see the little pieces just starting to go golden. There’s some good brown stuff stuck to the pan that we can deglaze. Might as well use the same brandy as before, derp de derp de derp. Hello! I forgot that’ll happen on a gas stove. I’m used to electric. With gas, you gotta turn the heat off — vapors or droplets from a high-proof spirit can escape and ignite on the open flame. But, no harm done. This is perfect. Heat off. Here’s my soup base after about an hour. And honestly, you could just throw the fresh mushrooms in with the rehydrated ones right now and call it a day. But the dried ones are still a little leathery. And I think can get even more flavor out of them by pureeing this, as smooth as possible. A food processor or a carafe-style blender would probably do a better job, but I just think the stick blender is easier to get out of the cupboard and it’s easier to clean. Plenty smooth, that is. You could eat it just like that, totally. Or if you’re feeling extra fancy, you could pass it through a sieve. This’ll get us a silkly smooth texture in the end. Just grind around on the fibers with a wooden spoon and you’ll have surprisingly little waste in the end. I’ll rinse that pan out real quick before we pour this back in. I generally hate pureed soups because every bite is exactly the same. That’s what the sliced fresh mushrooms are for — heterogeneity. They’re safe to go in now. And it’s time for the eponymous cream in the cream of mushroom soup. If you don’t want diary, use coconut cream instead. I might pour in as much as a cup, 240mL by the end. But I’ll be conservative up front. Stir that in and have a taste. Needs a bunch more salt, and some fresh pepper right here at the end. And now you can just boil this a few minutes this until the cream thickens up a bit. Boil it gently — if the cream gets way too hot it can kinda curdle in there. Maybe I want a little more cream. What I don’t need is any more acid, because I used a lot of brandy, and that stuff is surprisingly acidic when you concentrate it. If you had to skip the brandy and you couldn’t use white wine or anything instead, I’d put in a splash of vinegar at this stage. Apple cider vinegar would be particularly nice. You don’t need much, it certainly won’t be enough to curdle the cream. We are done. That’s probably enough soup for four or five dinner-size portions — twice that as a side or an appetizer. For pretty, you could drizzle a little more cream on top. For company, it might be nice to give them an assortment of fresh herbs they can stir in at the table — whatever they’d like. I think this tarragon goes very well with mushrooms. It’s a liquorish flavor, and it sure looks pretty. Some whole young parsley leaves instead would look awful nice too. And I think my favorite herb for this is thyme. I aways think fresh thyme taste kinda like the ground, in a good way. It’s mossy. Thyme with the mushrooms and the brandy aged in wood — it really is like eating the forest. That broth has a very powerful mushroom flavor from the dried mushrooms. You can drag some garlic toast through that if you want. You can freeze any leftovers — just re-heat it gently to keep the cream from splitting. But if you love mushrooms as much as I do, leftovers will not be a thing.